July is UV Safety Awareness Month, so it's only natural that we'd choose to spotlight an OG in the sun care industry: meet Supergoop! founder Holly Thaggard
First off, we have to say: we love the brand name. It's so fun and playful! What was the inspiration/what does it mean?
The name “Supergoop!” was sort of a happy accident! When I first set out on my mission to change the way the world thinks about sunscreen (over 15 years ago!), my husband Ty and I dubbed all of the SPFs that we got back from our chemists “goop.” When we finally fell in love with the formula that is now PLAY Everyday, the first word that came to us was “super.” We put the two words together and thought they were the perfect brand name, but I still felt like something was missing… That’s when we decided to add an exclamation point to the end to really reinforce the fun-and-playful factor that you mentioned, since I knew we were never going to be able to accomplish our mission by using scare tactics. It was also such a nice palate cleanser at the time, as most of the other skincare products out there were very doctor-driven and serious.
We often find that founders create their brands out of needs specific to them; was that the case for you and Supergoop!?
I definitely have a personal connection as to why I created the brand. A close friend of mine was diagnosed with skin cancer at age 29, which led me to learn that it was the most common type of cancer in the U.S.–and that it was primarily preventable with the use of daily SPF. But at the time, consumers also had a negative connotation about sunscreen, because all of the available options were thick and unpleasant to apply. So I set out to create a feel-good sunscreen that everyone, everywhere–myself included!–would actually want to wear, every single day.
Have you always been a daily wearer of sunscreen? If not, what made you see the light and make it a part of your daily routine?
To be completely honest, no! I had no idea what the true benefits of daily SPF were until after my roommate, who was doing her residency in dermatology at the same time my friend was diagnosed with skin cancer, told me the truth about skincare and SPF. She told me it wasn’t about beaches and bikinis but rather our skin’s every single day exposure to the sun that could lead to damage over time.
Are you big on skincare more generally? Walk us through your am/pm skincare routines.
I love uplifting scents, especially for the bath, so I’ve been using Necessaire’s The Body Wash for years now. The eucalyptus is so refreshing, and my teenage daughter happens to love it just as much as I do! I find that it’s the perfect prep step before applying our PLAY 100% Mineral Lotion, which is so nourishing and surprisingly hydrating (especially for a mineral SPF!).
I also bought Westman Atelier’s Foundation Stick while I was in London earlier this year and it’s so good for on-the-go touch-ups while I’m running from one event to the next. I’ll wear it over our Mattescreen SPF 40, which is the most beautiful tinted primer that provides the perfect hint of coverage, with all the benefits of mineral SPF protection, of course.
We've heard that a good SPF (especially of the mineral variety) is particularly challenging to formulate; did you go through many iterations of your first sunscreen(s)?
That’s absolutely correct. We’ve gone through many iterations of all of our formulas, and that includes our first ones! We have always held our brand and our products to a higher standard–The Supergoop! Standard– so if something still isn’t checking all the boxes when it comes to SPF protection, texture, skincare benefits, innovation, and more, then we simply won’t bring it to market. We also love the phrase “test, learn, iterate” and are always looking for ways to improve upon our favorite formulas that have been released. We’ve actually reformulated PLAY Everyday Lotion, our original formula, many times over!
Since "clean" isn't a regulated label, what makes a sunscreen clean in your opinion?
We’ve generally found that if a certain ingredient is in any way questionable when it comes to the health of our skin and our bodies, then it’s usually in our best interests to simply not use it. We’ve been committed to clean formulas since day one, and none of our products have ever been formulated with oxybenzone or parabens. Our “No” List includes 1300+ ingredients that don’t make the cut based on science-backed research showing negative effects from these ingredients. I also like to remind people that the SPF actives themselves are just part of the big picture!
Do you have a single favorite Supergoop! product? If so, what makes it your favorite?
It’s always so hard for me to pick a favorite, but a few of my current ones are Glowscreen SPF 40 and Lipshade 100% Mineral SPF 30. Glowscreen leaves behind the most luminous, natural, sunless glow, and Lipshade was something we spent years on, as I’m super picky about my lip colors. Add that to the already complex job of making sunscreen, and we had our work cut out for us! But I absolutely love where we ended up with this one - it’s the perfect pop of color that literally glides on your lips in order to hydrate and protect them.
SPF is obviously super important, yet there are plenty of suncare brands that don't have the level of awareness that Supergoop! does. What do you think has made it the cult-status brand that it is?
I fully believe that our mission has made all the difference. We are so passionate about Changing the Way the World Thinks about Sunscreen, and this has been our guiding light in all that we do. It literally informs every decision we make as a brand! This magic is something that’s really hard for other brands to imitate and capture, and it’s really set us apart.
It's pretty incredible that you've managed to remain a suncare-only brand. Did you ever consider or feel pressure to expand your category offerings?
I’ve certainly felt pressure from other people and even retailers, but again I’ve always felt so committed to my mission that I’ve never strayed from it. We know that SPF is the #1 thing we can do for our skin–and that we cannot truly practice skincare without it–so we’re committed to putting it at the forefront of each and every formula we make.
Lastly, what has been your biggest challenge as a business founder? What about your greatest reward?
I’m an optimist at heart, so I always prefer to focus on the rewards (and even see the challenges as things that are pointing me towards something great up ahead!). So with that, what has been most rewarding has been seeing how all of our hard work in creating change has really begun to pay off from a big picture perspective. Sunscreen wasn’t even marketed outside of the summer months until we began first educating on the importance of daily SPF in 2007. And from there, we’ve seen the whole world catching onto the conversation!